A lawsuit has been filed against Boy Scouts of America in the Capital Region. Filed under the lookback window within the Child Victims Act, three plaintiffs say they were abused by scoutmasters or leaders who were approved by Twin Rivers Council.
The one-year look back period allows for victims and survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits. The pages within the Boy Scouts of America CR lawsuit claim the organization not only allowed decades of abuse against young boy scouts, but also details how they covered it up.
The three men — two who reside in the Capital Region and one in Washington — say they were abused by their scout masters and leaders in the Twin Rivers Council while attending Camp 'Boy Haven.' According to the filing, these abuse claims span from the 60's all the way through the 80's, when the boys were in their early teens.
The lawyer for the plaintiffs, James Marsh, says the organization had files on leaders who were accused of sexual abuse, but tried to conceal them for decades. Marsh says this lawsuit is being filed in hopes there will be a change within the organization, and nothing like this will happen again.
"One of the most important motivations for a lot of our clients, a lot of victims and survivors out there, is not only accountability for themselves but it's really accountability and responsibility for the children currently in the programs and children that will be in the programs in the future," Marsh said.
The Twin Rivers Council sent Spectrum News the below statement regarding the claims against the Boy Scouts of America Organization. It also notes protocols and policy changes that have been made within the organization.
"Consistent with our commitment to protecting scouts and upholding our values as an organization, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) strongly supports efforts to ensure that anyone who commits sexual abuse is held accountable. First and foremost, we care deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in scouting. We are outraged there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children. We believe victims, we support them, we pay for counseling by a provider of their choice, and we encourage them to come forward. It is BSA policy all incidents of suspected abuse are reported to law enforcement.
We have also taken significant steps to keep kids safe in New York and across our organization. These include our Volunteer Screening Database – a tool the Centers for Disease Control recommends for all youth-serving organizations – as one of the cornerstones of our Barriers to Abuse, which also include:
- Ongoing mandatory youth protection education for all volunteers, parents, and scouts
- A leader selection process that includes criminal background checks and other screening efforts
- A leadership policy which requires at least two youth protection trained adults will be present with youth at all times, and prohibits one-on-one situations where adults would have any interactions alone with children – either in person, online, or via text;
- Prompt mandatory reporting to law enforcement of any allegation or suspicion of abuse, and, a 24/7 Scouts First Helpline (1-844-726-8871) and email contact address (firstname.lastname@example.org) to report any suspected abuse or inappropriate behavior.
Regarding the BSA’s general position on statute of limitations reform:
- We support the complete elimination of the criminal statute of limitation for child abuse
- We support expanding the civil statute of limitation for child abuse on a prospective basis
- We support some legislation that retroactively reforms the civil statute of limitation
- We believe it is imperative all convicted abusers serve their full criminal sentences and comply with any post-release requirements to protect children and reduce recidivism
- We believe if an organization knowingly concealed wrongdoing they should be held liable
- We also support retroactive statute of limitations reform for claims against individual abusers."
To see our previous coverage of, and involving, the Child Victims Act, click here.